LOS ANGELES – The Cubs are going to need Arodys Vizcaino if this really is a new golden age of pitching.
Vizcaino has been an X-factor in this rebuilding project ever since the Cubs made him a centerpiece in the Paul Maholm/Reed Johnson trade last summer. The Atlanta Braves never would have made Vizcaino available in that deal if he had been healthy.
So much for that predictable recovery from Tommy John surgery, but at least Vizcaino can begin to maybe see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Cubs are sending the talented right-hander to the Arizona Fall League, with the idea that he will likely be eased back into the big leagues as a reliever in 2014.
“The hardest thing about him at this point is that you do have to be aware he’s missed two seasons,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. “So we do have to bring him back slowly. I think he can start, for sure. Whether that means he starts (at some point) next year or maybe we control his innings a little bit as a reliever, I’m just excited for him to get back on the mound.”
Vizcaino will be 23 years old by the end of the Mesa Solar Sox season. He rocketed through the Atlanta system in 2011, stopping at the Class-A, -AA and -AAA levels before making 17 appearances out of the Braves bullpen.
Vizcaino entered the 2012 season as the second-best prospect in the Atlanta organization and Baseball America’s No. 40 overall prospect. Dr. James Andrews did the reconstruction surgery in March 2012 and an arthroscopic debridement on his right elbow this spring.
Vizcaino had been with the team in San Diego over the weekend before heading to the team’s complex in Arizona to continue his throwing program. The Cubs hope he’ll be ready for games this fall.
“He’s got electric stuff when you get him out there,” Hoyer said. “We all want to see this guy pitch.”